• Ivermectin is not authorized by the FDA for preventing or treating COVID-19
  • There has been a 245% surge in cases of ivermectin overdose in the country
  • It can cause serious symptoms such as seizures, coma, lung and heart problems

Two people who were hospitalized in New Mexico after taking ivermectin for COVID-19 have died, according to health officials. This comes as authorities continue to warn the public against self-medicating with the drug for the coronavirus.

The cases of people getting hospitalized because of ivermectin toxicity had been mentioned in previous press conferences, Dr. David Scarse, acting state Health Secretary, said in the Wednesday update on COVID-19 in the state.

"It's a serious issue. We need to watch it," Scarse said.

Authorities have been warning people against taking ivermectin for COVID-19. Animal formulations of the drug are approved in the U.S. to prevent or treat parasites in animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted.

While there are ivermectin tablets that are approved "at very specific doses" to treat parasitic worms in humans as well as topical formulations for head lice and skin conditions, authorities have received reports of people who needed medical attention and even hospitalization after self-medicating with ivermectin that's really intended for livestock. The National Poison Data System even reported a 245% surge in cases of ivermectin overdose.

"Currently available data do not show ivermectin is effective against COVID-19. Clinical trials assessing ivermectin tablets for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in people are ongoing," the agency said. "Taking large doses of ivermectin is dangerous."

Some of the common side effects of ivermectin include rashes, increased heart rate, muscle aches, headaches and upset stomach, the Missouri Poison Center noted.

"There have been reports of intentional ivermectin overdoses which can cause serious symptoms such as seizures, coma, lung and heart problems," as per the Center. "It is critical that any use of this medication is coordinated with a treating physician with full understanding of the potential risks and benefits. Even though ivermectin is available in various forms, do NOT attempt to self-treat COVID-19 with this medication."

Scarse did not divulge any more details on the cases, but he noted during the news conference that one of the deceased individuals had a "serious issue with COVID" while the other was on dialysis and the ivermectin was taken "in lieu of" effective treatments.

"The NM Medical Advisory Team does not recommend ivermectin therapy in patients with COVID-19 infection outside of clinical trials until more data is available," the presentation noted. "Call New Mexico Poison & Drug Information Center if you or someone you know has taken ivermectin: 1-800-222-1222."

New Mexico logged 725 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing its total to 248,075.

Ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, has been widely distributed in Latin America as a treatment for coronavirus
Ivermectin, an anti-parasite drug, has been widely peddled as a treatment for coronavirus AFP / Luis ROBAYO